|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Relic||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: THQ||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 11, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1 (Multiple Online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Cole Smith
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II - Chaos Rising works on so many levels it brings back the excitement of gaming for this oft-jaded reviewer. What a pleasure it was to play this game; it's as though the developers were actually listening to the rants and whining of game reviewers worldwide and addresses those issues. Chaos Rising may not be perfect, but it's close enough for this cowboy to let out a hardy yee-ha.
Although I've given Chaos Rising a great recommendation right off the bat, hardcore RTS fans should know there's little in the way of micromanagement, at least in terms of base building and resource gathering. It's definitely action-based but doesn't suffer from any lack of depth. It's perfect for newbies and vets alike, and it's so packed with content you might overlook. It's a single-player expansion pack; a standalone game good enough to be considered a game in its own right. So, if you're ready for action then we'll begin.
Chaos Rising combines RTS and RPG elements symbiotically. This is a marriage of genres and we're in the honeymoon phase. It's really difficult to imagine improving on this version, but while I'm gushing out kudos, I may as well get the bad news out of the way. It's just too damn short, the single-player campaign anyway. But, at some twenty-plus hours, I'm just being greedy. There's the multiplayer component that can virtually continue forever, although it doesn't have the depth of the single-player component. From the gameplay to the graphics and all things in between, Chaos Rising is a solid offering.
The Space Marines are up against the toughest battle of their glorious careers. Not only will they continue to do battle with the likes of the Orkz, Eldar, and Tyranids, but they will face an evil version of themselves, a faction capable of luring Space Marines to the dark side. The Chaos Marines are eerily similar to the Space Marines, but they wield magical powers imbued by the demons and gods they serve. It's these very powers that will tempt you as a righteous Space Marine. During difficult missions, you will be offered easier and more efficient solutions, but these come at a price. The price is your soul. As tempting as it may be to take the easy way out, even when your squad is being cut down and it seems like the only choice you have, the Chaos side will taint your character and adversely affect your squad and future events. Your decisions will ultimately affect the outcome of the game.
Chaos Rising tempts you almost unfairly in various scenarios. That evil gear is so deviously powerful and so much fun, how can you not want to at least try it on for size? Choosing the path of evil is not detrimental to your existence. There are some items that you'll be restricted from obtaining if you are tainted by the Corruption, which is actually displayed in HUD form, gauging your moral compass. There's no immediate punishment for your evil ways, but Warhammer 40K fanatics will be extremely averse to sullying the mighty Space Marine's reputation and honor; so well-crafted is the character development, you become emotionally invested in your squads and the creed of the Space Marines.
You can import characters from the last DoW II game or start fresh with each squad member at a level 17. It doesn't take long to start leveling your characters. The missions are clearly defined and mostly linear. Some side missions are offered, but not many. As I mentioned, there is no base building or resource gathering; what would normally be considered micromanagement is the continuing customizing of your squad. I would break the gameplay down into two main sections: combat and dungeon-crawling. The combat is fierce. It's real time. For the most part, you'll be controlling a series of tightly structured units of your own design. From the seven offered you'll be able to choose four. Later in the game there are some epic battles involving scores of units. However, it never feels like you're controlling a swarm of zombies.